Wolf of Wall Street
It’s not uncommon for films to get scenes cut or shortened for releases in countries with stricter censorship. If you were to take Wolf of Wall Street and cut out all the scenes with drugs, swearing, nudity and generally irresponsible behaviour, you’d probably reduce its 3 hour running time to a TV half hour, so it was easier for countries like Malaysia, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Kenya to just ban the film altogether. Other countries also had to make special arrangements for the film, scenes were cut for distribution in India and it was relegated to very few theatres in Singapore. It’s almost as if Scorsese had some pent up tendencies he had to let out after directing Hugo, his first and only kids film.
In 1979 the first Mad Max film shocked audiences in Australia and the entire world with its depiction of gang violence in a dystopian future. One scene hit a little too close to home for New Zealand who subsequently banned the film. When Max’s partner Goose is burned alive inside his car by a biker gang, it unintentionally mirrored an event that had recently taken place in New Zealand. Fortunately, the film’s goose wasn’t permanently cooked there, New Zealand eventually released Mad Max after the success of the subsequent sequels.
The guys behind comedy gems South Park and Team America have always been about pushing the envelope of good taste. Matt Stone and Trey Parker crafted their own little masterpiece when they decided to use marionettes to spoof American action films, particularly the monument toppling tendencies of Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich. Knowing the censors would struggle with putting a rating on all the outlandish things these puppets were doing, Stone and Parker intentionally messed with them for one scene in particular. For the film’s love scene, thing progressively escalate through the traditional sex positions to more advanced techniques before going full scatalogical. They thought this scene would distract the MPAA from the content of the rest of the film and they’d get the rating down by just making significant cuts to this scene. It worked, they avoided the NC17 rating and reinstated the sex scene in its entirety for the DVD release.
Back To The Future
What could possibly be so offensive about a high school kid who goes back in time to make sure his parents hook up that could get it banned in all of China? Was it the implications of incest? The casual racism? Nope, it was the disrespect of history that the Chinese government didn’t approve of. In 2011 they placed a ban on all films containing time travel. They felt these films encouraged filmmakers to treat history in a frivolous way, extending the ban on everything from A Christmas Carol to Austin Powers. They’ve since loosened their stance on these films, and now time travel films play exceptionally well in China, which would explain the success of Terminator Genisys there.
In 2014, Sony thought they had a big holiday hit with the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview, but the movie would never make it to cinemas. With its depiction of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un they knew the film wouldn’t go over well there, but following the Sony hack and threats against any theatre that showed the film, Sony decided to play it safe and abandoned plans for a theatrical distribution only weeks before its release. The Interview was released on streaming platforms and the controversy caused by North Korea’s threats of war made for better press than Sony and the filmmakers could have ever hoped for.
Watching Deadpool, you’d think they didn’t hold anything back as it firmly embraced its hard R status. However there was one scene in which actors Ryan Reynolds and T.J. Miller were allowed to improvise and shit got a little too real. We all remember the scene where Wade Wilson reveals his mutilated face to Weasel who unleashes a barrage of ‘you look like’ jokes on him. Apparently some of the insults Miller came up with made the scripted lines look like Disney dialogue and were deemed too racy, even for Deadpool.